COLUMBUS, Ohio – If it was the last appearance for some of the players on the back end of the Crew roster, then it was a special way to special finish the MLS Reserve League schedule.
The Crew reserves topped their D.C. United counterparts 3-1 on a gray, chilly Tuesday morning in Crew Stadium.
Goals by trialist Walter Chevez of Costa Rica, first-team forward Emilio Rentería, and backup rookie midfielder Bernardo Anor against the short-handed DC side enabled Columbus (9-1, 27 points) to finish with the most points in the Reserve League.
“We’ve been taking this league pretty seriously all year,” defender Josh Williams said. “I think our record shows it and our performances did. We put together a string of really good performances."
D.C. United lost midfielder Austin da Luz to a red card in the 25th minute for a challenge on Rentería, but then grabbed the lead five minutes later when Joseph Ngwenya took advantage of gaps in the defense.
“At halftime, we were all mad because we felt like we shouldn’t give up goals,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we’ve been here before and remained calm.”
Chevez entered to start the second half and got the equalizer in the 48th minute with a header to the back post off a Justin Meram cross. Meram also drew a penalty in the 72nd that Rentería converted.
Anor capped the scoring with a long strike in the 89th minute as the Crew avenged their only reserve loss of the year - from the first weekend of the season.
“I’m very satisfied with the performance of the team,” Anor said. “All the guys did pretty good. We earned it.”
Afterward, the players lifted an Eastern Division championship trophy that the Hudson Street Hooligans supporters presented to the club.
“We had great fans come out here on a weekday,” said Crew assistant coach Ricardo Iribarren, who was in charge for all the reserve matches. “The least we could do was a give them a nice win.”
It was all smiles in the locker room, but the Crew must get down to the serious business of deciding who stays and goes for the 2012.
Five of the 16 who appeared in the match for the Crew (excluding Chevez and another Costa Rican trialist, Esteban Granados) did not appear in a regular season game.
ON THE MEND
Captain Chad Marshall underwent surgery recently on his right ankle to shave bone spurs and remove bone fragments that had bothered him throughout the season.
The central defender will be ready for the preseason training that starts in two months, as will rookie midfielder Rich Balchan after his sports hernia operation last week.